Stream it or skip it ‘mob psycho 100’ on netflix review a gas has no volume

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We can all agree that having supernatural powers is a pretty cool gimmick, but can it protect you from the horrors of school? As Mob Psycho 100 knows all too well, no it cannot. Based on the manga of the same name created by One, this live-action Netflix original follows Mob, a shy teenage boy who seems destined to blend into the background. Can he gain control of his psychic powers and learn to be confident, or is he destined to be forgettable? Mob Psycho 100 : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: We start in a lab filled with lab coats, blue lights, and tension. Something weird is going on, and there are scientists there to experiment. Mob Psycho 100 then jumps through several different shots of seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things — two boys holding hands and creating a shield, a young woman creating fire out of thin air, an ominous man with a scar throwing men into walls by their heads. There’s more light-hearted Xavier’s Home for Gifted Youngsters vibe going on here.

As the scarred stranger throws more men onto the ground, a voiceover plays. “In this world there exist supernatural abilities that cannot be explained by science,” the voice says. These special people are called Espers, and they live right alongside everyday humans.”

The show then cuts to a normal Japanese high school. A young man with a bowl haircut, probably in seventh or eighth grade, hides behind a corner as he watches two girls walk down the hall. Suddenly one of the girls trips. Reaching out his hand, he stops her from falling even though she’s several feet away and pushes her back on her feet. The girls look a little confused but ultimately shrug off the near-fall and continue walking to class. Bowl haircut, or Shigeo Kageyama (Tatsuomi Hamada), then identifies himself as our narrator and the show’s protagonist. “However having psychic powers won’t make you popular with the girls,” he says despondently. Photo: Netflix

The Gist: In a world where people with superpowers live alongside regular people, the supernatural Espens want to take the world away from the humans. However, Mob Psycho 100 doesn’t care about any of that. Instead this manga and anime adaptation is all about one lovestruck psychic teen who just wants girls to like him. While a battle for the fate of the world plays out around him, Kageyama tries to get his crush’s attention.

There are hints that as the show progresses the stakes will get higher. For example, there’s a mysterious collective of scarred people who sinisterly smirk in every scene they’re in, and Mob Psycho 100‘s first episode sometimes cuts back to that creepy lab. But most of the drama in this first episode is bound to Kageyama’s middle school.

And it would be difficult to find a more pathetic protagonist than Kageyama even if he had a better haircut. He’s constantly being compared to his effortlessly successful brother. The girl he likes clearly has no interest in him. He falls asleep in class and makes mistakes during gym. There’s also a very good chance that he’s been swindled by a fellow “psychic” who has been apprenticing him but who really just seems to use Kageyama to run errands. He’s such a sad character, Kageyama’s nickname is literally “mob,” a reference that mocks how featureless and indecisive he is.

Our Take: Before you think about giving Mob Psycho 100 a shot, pause and ask yourself how much you like anime. When I say that Mob Psycho 100 is a live-action anime adaptation, I’m not just saying that its source material is manga. I’m saying that watching it is like watching like real people acting out manga panels.

The result can be jarring. Manga and anime can get away with extreme reactions and on-the-nose dialogue at least partially because they’re animated. These art forms are supposed to take nuanced and subtle human reactions and interpret them in a way that look grand but tonally feel true to human behavior. In real life, people don’t strike a pose immediately upon meeting a stranger. However, some people are able to make such a pronounced impression, it can feel like that’s what they’ve done.

Alternatively, Mob Psycho 100 leans harder into these anime and manga-specific tropes rather than ironing out the series for live action. At one point Mob’s master Arataka, a grown man, has a visible, crippling panic attack after just thinking about cockroaches. Mob slouches so much, it feels forced. A young woman literally poses — complete with a peace sign — after first meeting Mob. It’s a lot.

But there are some moments where all of this zaniness works because ultimately Mob Psycho 100 is a show that refuses to take itself seriously. Kazuki Namioka’s performance as Arataka has some good moments, largely because Namioka does a great job selling his too-slick-to-be-caught snake oil salesman of a character. Tome, the president of the Telepathy Club who forces Mob to be her friend, can also shine once you accept her mile-a-minute pace. Also, the bodybuilding club is a surprisingly sweet addition to this high school and an interesting inverse of the “jocks are mean” trope. I would love to see more of them.

Parting Shot: After Mob decides to join the bodybuilding club instead of the Telepathy Club, we head back to the lab. An unknown voice monologues about how Espers will take over the world as the camera shows us a collection of people with scars on their face. There’s clearly some important and likely evil organization plotting something sinister. It likely won’t be long until they start searching for their fellow Esper, Mob.